For the past six months, the question of Baxter’s ability to continue traveling as my #1 Navigator in the RV and possibly even competing in future Nose Work/Scent Work trials has laid heavy on my mind. If his problem can’t be corrected – if it’s simply some sort of normal age-related disfunction – can I come up with a feasible work-around? I’d love to hear options if anyone has dealt with this problem in their own dogs. He’s not quite ten years old – that’s pretty young for a Dachshund.
Baxter has been dealing with a mild bladder or urinary tract disfunction for over five years, but for a long time its only issue was a periodic tendency to “leak” a little when he was sleeping – usually in a warm lap … sigh. Blood work and urine tests came back totally normal and he is not diabetic. With our vet’s assistance, we treated it with a mild herbal remedy that simply helped him to have better control. This worked fine for several years.
Last summer, the problem suddenly escalated. Not only was there a recurrence and increase in the urine leaking (seldom while he was awake – it seems to be related to his being completely relaxed), but he needed to go out and potty a lot more often than in the past. When traveling in the RV last summer, I stopped at pull-outs a LOT more often for Baxter’s comfort than my own.
I realized how serious the problem was (not life-threatening, but possibly life-style threatening) when Baxter was in a K9 Nose Work NW3 trial over the summer, and in obvious distress, squatted and peed during an Exterior search. The boy has not made a mistake like this in a search zone in YEARS. I wish I’d recognized his discomfort sooner; I could tell he wasn’t searching with his usual zeal, but caught the signs too late – he literally dragged me away into the grass (I do believe he was trying to leave the search zone), but I didn’t understand and tried to encourage him to return to the search. My bad. He gave me a distraught look, and peed in the grass. DQ.
For the remainder of that trip down to the Kenai, I found myself having to take him out of the RV to potty almost hourly. Fortunately, he is very well house-trained and truly did not want to make a mistake inside the RV, bless his little heart. He would fuss and fuss, whine and woo-woo-woo if I wasn’t quick enough.
I didn’t return home where I could take him to our own vet for over a week – it was a long week for both of us. I had to take him out for a late-night potty break at 10:30-11:00 pm (well past our usual bedtime), and he’d still wake me up needing to go out VERY early in the morning. A couple of times, we got up and went out in the middle of the night. Needless to say, he slept in his kennel that week, rather than in my bed as he would have much preferred – but I only had one set of spare sheets!
The trip home from the Kenai was troubling. We needed to drive through the Sterling wildfire zone in a controlled group with a pilot car. From the time we got into line to wait for the pilot car until the end of the zone where we were released from the slow-moving piloted group was about 1 ½ hours, possibly a little longer. Baxter started whining at Cooper’s Landing (about half-way). I honestly thought I was going to have to pull over and we were NOT supposed to stop. By the time I finally saw the pilot vehicle pulling off the road, Baxter was whining, whimpering and barking in distress. I pulled off right behind the pilot car and stopped. She looked pretty surprised when I popped out of the RV with a very agitated Dachshund who raced to the nearest clump of weeds and barely took the time to lift his leg. He peed and peed and peed … and peed. Ah, the relief.
Once home, our vet did another full blood-work and urine panel on Baxter and again it came back completely normal. No infection, no other indication of a problem. We added a chewable tablet that might help and hoped for the best, with no medical arrows pointing to a specific problem. The leaking improved again, but we’re pretty sure that is partly due to the fact that we started taking him out to potty about twice as often as previously.
Baxter seems perfectly happy at this point in time. His quality of life is fine, as long as we are around to take him out regularly. And he seems to do OK when left home alone in the quiet house for up to about 4 hours or so. We occasionally find damp spots on his favorite doggy bed (fortunately easily tossed in the washing machine) if we are away from home more than 5 hours, but otherwise he’s doing pretty good.
Jerry is home most of the time and is pretty good about taking Baxter out when he asks. Baxter has gotten good at demanding that Jerry listen to him. 😉 This has things in check for the time being. But what to do when spring and summer arrive and I want to start traveling again?
On the plus side; I love having both Baxter and Rhonda along on my RV trips. Both dogs love traveling in the RV, stopping at great new sniffy spots along the route and long leash walks at new locations when we arrive there. They are both good company for me and they both love the Nose Work/Scent Work trials that are often at the end of the drive. I think Ronni would miss having Baxter along almost as much as I would if he didn’t come with us.
On the down side; having to stop for potty breaks every hour or so while traveling can be problematic in a large vehicle and takes up a LOT of time. Needing to either stay up late at night in order to take him out for that late night potty break or get back out of bed to do so – AND then also get up super early in the morning (something Jer is fine doing at home, but me – not so much) … well, that puts a damper on my own travel enjoyment – a thought that makes me feel guilty and a bit selfish, but there it is. I DO enjoy sleeping in and having coffee in my PJs while enjoying a pretty view out the window.
Ronni is just the opposite of Baxter. It can be difficult to get Ronni to even think about waking up before 8am many mornings – she loves being snuggly-warm under the blankets and will grumble and groan (it’s pretty cute) in resistance to an early wake-up call – a girl after my own heart. Baxter used to enjoy this too. I’m sure he would much prefer to go back to his old ways. It’s not his fault, poor little dude.
We’ll be making another trip to the vet to see if anything else can be tried. If nothing helps to resolve this problem, I will have to make some decisions. I’m thinking having my cheerful little navigator along is more important than a speedy time-line, but geez … I’m envisioning my next trip to the Kenai. My friends already tease me about leaving for a trial two days early so I can take my time driving. I can just imagine what they’ll think next time.
OK; leave Wasilla, stop to potty in Anchorage, stop to potty at Girdwood (or somewhere along Turnagain arm), stop to potty along 6-Mile Creek, stop to potty at Cooper’s Landing, stop to potty … OH WAIT! We made it to Sterling! 😊 Yay!
On the bright side, I’m all for stopping to smell the roses. I guess this will give me many “happy opportunities”? I mean, seriously, you have to have a navigator, right?